ON MY JOURNEY NOW

LOOKING AT AFRICAN-AMERICAN HISTORY THROUGH THE SPIRITUALS

Giovanni’s slim, personal exploration of the historical underpinnings of the spirituals presents a unique perspective on a topic rarely examined in young-adult literature. Quoting liberally from 47 songs, Giovanni focuses on the triumph over extreme adversity inherent in both the lyrics and the African-American experience itself. She frequently supplants the noun “slaves” with “the enslaved,” honoring the intact humanity of the uprooted Africans. Focusing on the dignity of work and the unity and communication achieved through song, Giovanni ponders both daily and psychic life under and after slavery, in chapters such as “Escape,” “Sunday,” and “The Fisk Jubilee Singers.” She adopts a conversational, free-associative style that should engage teens jaded by dry textbook prose. She opines plenty, too, defending hip-hop, railing against the religious right’s usurpation of the Bible and maintaining that America’s longstanding grudge against Haiti dates from its role as a haven for slaves escaping the Deep South. Contrasting with the expressive narrative, appended information attests to Giovanni’s scholarly chops. An important work to handsell, booktalk and embrace. (foreword, lyrics, biographical notes, bibliography/source notes, recommended recordings, indexes) (Nonfiction. 11+)

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2007

ISBN: 0-7636-2885-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2007

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Small but mighty necessary reading.

THE NEW QUEER CONSCIENCE

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A miniature manifesto for radical queer acceptance that weaves together the personal and political.

Eli, a cis gay white Jewish man, uses his own identities and experiences to frame and acknowledge his perspective. In the prologue, Eli compares the global Jewish community to the global queer community, noting, “We don’t always get it right, but the importance of showing up for other Jews has been carved into the DNA of what it means to be Jewish. It is my dream that queer people develop the same ideology—what I like to call a Global Queer Conscience.” He details his own isolating experiences as a queer adolescent in an Orthodox Jewish community and reflects on how he and so many others would have benefitted from a robust and supportive queer community. The rest of the book outlines 10 principles based on the belief that an expectation of mutual care and concern across various other dimensions of identity can be integrated into queer community values. Eli’s prose is clear, straightforward, and powerful. While he makes some choices that may be divisive—for example, using the initialism LGBTQIAA+ which includes “ally”—he always makes clear those are his personal choices and that the language is ever evolving.

Small but mighty necessary reading. (resources) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09368-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Best enjoyed by preexisting fans of the author.

CONTINUUM

From the Pocket Change Collective series

Deaf, trans artist Man meditates on his journey and identity in this brief memoir.

Growing up in conservative central Pennsylvania was tough for the 21-year-old Deaf, genderqueer, pansexual, and biracial (Chinese/White Jewish) author. He describes his gender and sexual identity, his experiences of racism and ableism, and his desire to use his visibility as a YouTube personality, model, and actor to help other young people like him. He is open and vulnerable throughout, even choosing to reveal his birth name. Man shares his experiences of becoming deaf as a small child and at times feeling ostracized from the Deaf community but not how he arrived at his current Deaf identity. His description of his gender-identity development occasionally slips into a well-worn pink-and-blue binary. The text is accompanied and transcended by the author’s own intriguing, expressionistic line drawings. However, Man ultimately falls short of truly insightful reflection or analysis, offering a mostly surface-level account of his life that will likely not be compelling to readers who are not already fans. While his visibility and success as someone whose life represents multiple marginalized identities are valuable in themselves, this heartfelt personal chronicle would have benefited from deeper introspection.

Best enjoyed by preexisting fans of the author. (Memoir. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-22348-2

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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